There's a feeling of uneasiness every time Bradley Beal takes the court against the Toronto Raptors.
On one hand, the Washington Wizards star knows what's coming. There's the dread of what must feel like one thousand hands coming at him, swiping at the ball, and creating chaos for him.
"That's what (Toronto Raptors coach) Nick Nurse does. That’s who he is," Beal said following his 25-point, nine-turnover performance Friday. "Every time I play him, he's making it tough, he's trying to get the ball out of my hand."
On the other hand, there's a sense of excitement. Beal knows the approaching challenge and despite what may lie ahead, there's a respect he has for Nurse and what the Raptors are trying to do. It's why he said he pulled Fred VanVleet aside during the game and conveyed that to him.
"I always respect that when I play you guys, sometimes it may get chippy or we might talk trash, but it's a competitive game," Beal recalled telling VanVleet. "Like I enjoy competing against that team. They have a fun group."
This season, Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes has added an extra layer of both fun and frustration for Beal. The 20-year-old posted a career-high 27 points on Friday, doing it almost exclusively in the paint with floaters and jump hooks.
"(He's) special," Beal said of Barnes. "I’ve always been a fan of him since I coached against him in high school. I’ve seen him for the longest and he's always been a special talent. Tonight he looked like a star. He was killing us.
"It’s crazy because he was making jump hooks all night. It wasn't like he was breaking us down, he wasn’t hitting us with anything crazy. Kept his game simple and efficient."
That's when Barnes is at his best these days. He can work in the pick-and-roll, drive into the paint, and either get to his baby hook or close-up jumper, or he can use his side to post-up smaller defenders.
"When he stretches out, he’s big out there and I think he can use that length advantage to his advantage," Nurse said.
Even if Barnes' development comes at the expense of Washington's success, it's not going to be a problem for Beal.
"I'm happy he’s finding his way," the Wizards star said. "He has a good group of guys to learn from over there."